Here’s how Arizona GOP lawmakers aim to avoid Hobbs’ veto stamp on some border legislation

Mar 12, 2024, 2:00 PM

Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen, right, looks on during Gov. Katie Hobbs' 2023 State of th...

Arizona Senate Warren Petersen, left, said Republican lawmakers are working to pass border legislation despite the threat of Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs' veto stamp. (Facebook File Photo/Governor Katie Hobbs)

(Facebook File Photo/Governor Katie Hobbs)

PHOENIX – Arizona Republicans are continuing to push border-related legislation after Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs rejected their first bill to address the issue.

State Senate President Warren Petersen told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Tuesday that his caucus expects to pass multiple border-related bills in the coming weeks. With a slim advantage in each chamber, Republicans can pass items without bipartisan support.

At least two of the proposals are concurrent resolutions that would go before voters for approval, bypassing the threat of Hobbs’ veto stamp.

One of them already has passed the Senate. HCR2038 would designate drug cartels as terrorist organizations if passed by the House and approved by voters in November.

“Doing that allows you to prosecute them more go. It allows you to go after them more,” Petersen said.

Hobbs vetoed a similar bill Republicans sent to her desk last session.

GOP lawmakers want Arizona voters to pass child sex trafficking law

The other proposed referendum, HCR2042, seeks to impose life sentences with no chance for parole for child sex trafficking convictions.

Petersen called opponents of the proposal “soft on crime.”

“This is just flat-out evil. … You can’t allow that evil to go back out and harm other people. You’ve already destroyed a child’s life completely once; we cannot allow that to happen again,” he said.

How else do Arizona Republicans want to address border security?

Another bill in the works, HB2134, is related to penalties for unlawful flight from law enforcement.

“The cartels are recruiting people to smuggle people, and they’ll get in these high-speed chases, and … they’ve had terrible accidents. … Innocent people are getting killed on these unlawful flights. And so, we have a bill to address that,” Petersen said.

The Republican border security push also includes bills addressing fentanyl deaths and the use of social media and electronic devices.

“All of these should be hitting her desk soon,” Petersen said of Hobbs. “Our hope is that they will engage and that they will work with us on these issues.”

Why did Gov. Katie Hobbs veto first border bill?

The first bill passed by the Legislature this session was vetoed by Hobbs on March 4. SB1231, aka the Arizona Border Invasion Act, would have made it a state crime to enter the Arizona outside of lawful points of entry.

In her veto letter, Hobbs said the legislation presented constitutional concerns that would likely lead to costly litigation, and she questioned whether it would actually help secure the border.

The bill was similar to a Texas law that is currently on hold while it works its ways through the court system.

Petersen doesn’t agree with Hobbs’ reasoning. He also said he was confident that the U.S. Supreme Court in its current form would rule in favor of the legislation.

“I think that’s just an excuse. Her excuse would change if it was constitutional; it would be something else, I presume. … We should be moving this forward, absolutely,” he said.

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Here’s how Arizona GOP lawmakers aim to avoid Hobbs’ veto stamp on some border legislation